David Hamilton identified by MLB Pipeline as fastest prospect in Red Sox farm system

Infielder David Hamilton has unsurprisingly been identified by MLB Pipeline as the fastest prospect in the Red Sox’ farm system heading into the 2023 season.

Hamilton, 25, is currently regarded by MLB Pipeline as the No. 29 prospect in Boston’s farm system. The Red Sox originally acquired the speedster from the Brewers with infield prospect Alex Binelas and outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. in the December 2021 trade that sent outfielder Hunter Renfroe to Milwaukee.

After receiving his first invite to big-league spring training last year, Hamilton spent the entirety of the 2022 campaign with Double-A Portland. To go along with a franchise-record 70 stolen bases, the left-handed hitter batted .251/.338/.402 with 16 doubles, nine triples, 12 home runs, 42 RBIs, 81 runs scored, 56 walks, and 119 strikeouts in 119 games (531 plate appearances) for the Sea Dogs.

Hamilton ended his season on a strong note by posting a 1.029 OPS in the month of September. Shortly after being named the 2022 Red Sox Minor League Baserunner of the Year, the Texas product was somewhat surprisingly added to Boston’s 40-man roster in November in order to receive protection from the upcoming Rule 5 Draft.

With bigger bases, pitch clocks, shift restrictions, and pickoff limits on the horizon, the Red Sox prioritized speed and elected to protect Hamilton as opposed to one of their talented pitching prospects (such as Thad Ward, A.J. Politi, and Noah Song), who were later scooped up by the Nationals, Orioles, and Phillies, respectively.

Hamilton was in major-league camp again this spring and went 7-for-24 (.292) with one double, four RBIs, three runs scored, five stolen bases, three walks, and nine strikeouts in 13 Grapefruit League games before being optioned to Triple-A Worcester on March 13.

Right around that same time, Hamilton sat down for a one-on-one interview with MLB.com’s Ian Browne in which he discussed his speed, the new rules coming to Major League Baseball, and what he wants to improve on, among other things.

When asked if the size of the bases increasing is a good thing for players such as himself, Hamilton said: “The bases by themselves, no. But I think the pitch clock, the disengagements, the bases, all that plays into it.”

When asked about what type of things he is working on to maximize his offensive potential, Hamilton said: “I’m just trying to hit more line drives, trying to stay inside the ball a little bit more and put the ball in play. I’m a fast guy, so I put pressure on the defense as soon as I’m on base.”

As a follow-up to that question, Hamilton was also asked about what a good season would look like for him this year.

“If I can just hit line drives, put more pressure on the defense, play good defense, take away runs and score runs,” said Hamilton, “that’s my game right there.”

Speaking of defense, Hamilton saw playing time at three different positions with the Sea Dogs last year. The 5-foot-10, 175-pounder logged 543 2/3 innings at second base, 460 1/3 innings at shortstop, and 18 innings in center field for the first time in his professional career.

“I’ve always played short growing up, so I’m comfortable there,” Hamilton told Browne when asked about his versatility. “I like second [base]. I’ve played center. Wherever they put me, I can play.”

Hamilton, who does not turn 26 until September, is expected to open the 2023 season with the WooSox. Given the fact that he possesses 70-grade speed (using the 20-80 scouting scale) and is already on the 40-man roster, he is in position to make his major-league debut, potentially as a speed threat off the bench, at some point this year.

(Picture of David Hamilton: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

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Luis Perales identified by MLB Pipeline as having best fastball of any Red Sox pitching prospect

Luis Perales was recently identified by MLB Pipeline as having the best fastball of any Red Sox pitching prospect. The 19-year-old is currently regarded by the publication as the No. 13 prospect in Boston’s farm system, which ranks fourth among pitchers in the organization.

The Red Sox originally signed Perales for $75,000 as an international free agent coming out of Venezuela in July 2019. Shortly after signing that summer, the hard-throwing right-hander was clocked at 95 mph with his heater.

Fast forward nearly four years later, and Perales is coming off a strong stateside debut in which he posted a 1.77 ERA and 3.24 FIP with 50 strikeouts to 20 walks in 13 appearances (11 starts) spanning 35 2/3 innings of work between the Florida Complex League and Low-A Salem.

Perales opened the 2022 minor-league season with Boston’s rookie-level affiliate and forged a 1.08 ERA (2.31 FIP) in eight outings (seven starts, 25 innings) before earning a promotion to Salem in late August. The Guacara native closed out the year by putting up a 3.37 ERA (5.44 FIP) over 10 2/3 innings with the Red Sox of the Carolina League.

On the heels of such an impressive campaign, it is not surprising to see that Perales was tabbed by MLB Pipeline’s Sam Dykstra as a potential breakout candidate within the Red Sox’ system heading into 2023.

“The 6-foot-1 right-hander was able to dominate the FCL and Salem in ‘22 because of his mid-90s heater that can touch 99 and features impressive ride at the top of the strike zone,” Dykstra wrote of Perales earlier this week. “[Red Sox director of player development Brian] Abraham mentioned in one extended game that 50 of Perales’ 60 pitches were fastballs, leading to only one hit and seven strikeouts over nine batters faced. He’ll need more than that if he’s going to leap in 2023, but the building blocks are there, especially with his mid-80s slider.”

Perales, who turns 20 next month, is expected to return to Salem for the start of the upcoming season. There, the 6-foot-1, 160-pounder will need to hone in on improving his command of the strike zone as he continues to adjust to more advanced competition in the minors.

“I think number one is slowing things down and really challenging the strike zone with the stuff he has,” Abraham said of Perales. “He has really good stuff. Now, we want him to challenge the strike zone, challenge hitters because it’s really hard to hit what he has. From there, it’s continuing to develop a slider and a changeup so he has a mix.”

(Picture of Luis Perales: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

How did Red Sox prospect Blaze Jordan fare between Low-A Salem and High-A Greenville in 2022?

Blaze Jordan may no longer be considered a teenager after celebrating his 20th birthday on Monday, but he is still one of the youngest and brightest prospects in the Red Sox farm system.

In 120 games between Low-A Salem and High-A Greenville this past season, Jordan batted .289/.363/.445 with 30 doubles, three triples, 12 home runs, 68 RBIs, 60 runs scored, five stolen bases, 48 walks, and 94 strikeouts over 521 total plate appearances.

The right-handed hitting infielder broke camp this spring with Salem, which is where he ended things last season. He slashed .287/.357/.446 with 29 doubles, three triples, eight homers, 57 runs driven in, 48 runs scored, four stolen bases, 37 walks, and 67 strikeouts in 95 games (415 plate appearances) with the Red Sox before earning a promotion to Greenville in early August.

While with the Drive for the remainder of the 2022 campaign, Jordan hit .301/.387/.441 with just one double, four home runs, 11 RBIs, 12 runs scored, one stolen base, 11 walks, and 27 strikeouts across 25 games spanning 106 trips to the plate.

Upon being promoted over the summer, Jordan was able to draw more walks, which in turn led to him getting on base more. He also punched out a higher clip (16.1 percent to 25.5 percent) and saw his power production curtail, so it was not necessarily the smoothest of transitions.

Still, Jordan was among the most productive hitters in the lower-minors and in the Red Sox organization this year. Of the 39 players in the system who reached the necessary number of plate appearances to qualify as a league leader, Jordan ranked seventh in strikeout rate (18.0 percent), 12th in swinging strike rate (14.0 percent), eighth in batting average, 15th in on-base percentage, 13th in slugging percentage, 11th in OPS (.808), 18th in isolated power (.156), eighth in line-drive rate (24.4 percent), and 12th in wRC+ (124), per FanGraphs.

Defensively, Jordan split time between first and third base at both of his stops this season. Altogether, the burly 6-foot-2, 220-pounder logged 402 2/3 innings at first and 499 1/3 innings at the hot corner. He committed six errors at each position and unsurprisingly posted a higher fielding percentage at first (.983) than he did at third (.939).

A native of Southaven, Miss., Jordan was originally selected by the Red Sox in the third round of the 2020 amateur draft out of DeSoto Central High School. He graduated a year early after reclassifying in 2019 and was committed to play college baseball at Mississippi State. But with the help of area scout Danny Watkins, Boston was able to sway Jordan away from his commitment by offering him a lucrative $1.75 million signing bonus.

Jordan officially put pen to paper that July, but he did not make his professional debut until the following June on account of the COVID-19 pandemic wiping out the 2020 minor-league season. He has since appeared in a total of 148 games across three different levels and owns a slash line of .296/.364/.472 to go along with 18 home runs and 94 RBIs in that span.

MLB Pipeline currently ranks Jordan as the No. 9 prospect in Boston’s farm system while SoxProspects.com has him at No. 15. He still has room to grow from a developmental point-of-view on both sides of the ball, but the potential — especially when it comes to his raw power — is certainly there.

If Jordan makes it through the winter without being involved in any sort of trade, he is projected to return to Greenville for the start of the 2023 season and would seemingly have the chance to make the jump to Double-A Portland at some point next summer.

(Picture of Blaze Jordan: Gwinn Davis/Greenville Drive)

Will Red Sox protect Christian Koss from Rule 5 Draft by adding him to 40-man roster?

By this time next Tuesday, the Red Sox will have added a number of minor-leaguers to their 40-man roster in order to protect them from December’s Rule 5 Draft.

Ceddanne Rafaela will almost certainly be protected. Wilyer Abreu, David Hamilton, Chris Murphy, Brandon Walter, and Thad Ward are also eligible and have interesting cases to be made. The same can be said for Christian Koss, who MLB Pipeline recently identified as Boston’s toughest Rule 5 decision.

Koss, 24, spent the entirety of the 2022 season with Double-A Portland. The versatile right-handed hitter batted .260/.309/.430 with 22 doubles, five triples, 17 home runs, 84 RBIs, 69 runs scored, 16 stolen bases, 25 walks, and 137 strikeouts over 125 games (532 plate appearances) en route to being named the Sea Dogs’ Most Valuable Player.

Among qualified Eastern League hitters, Koss ranked fourth in hits (125), third in RBIs, 11th in runs scored, 19th in stolen bases, 18th in batting average, 16th in speed score (6.5). He also ranked 35th in strikeout rate (25.8 percent), 57th in walk rate (4.7 percent), 43rd in on-base percentage, 35th in wRC+ (99), 60th in line-drive rate (14.4 percent), 57th in groundball rate (48.9 percent), and 48th in swinging-strike rate (14.7 percent), per FanGraphs.

Defensively, Koss saw playing time at five different positions in 2022. The 6-foot-1, 182-pounder logged 214 1/3 innings at second base, 185 innings at third base, 601 2/3 innings at shortstop, nine innings in left field, and 37 innings in right field. This year marked the first time he had ever played the outfield in his professional career.

Koss’ pro career dates back to June 2019, when he was selected by the Rockies in the 12th round of the amateur draft out of the University of California, Irvine. The Red Sox acquired the Riverside native from Colorado in exchange for left-hander Yoan Aybar the following December.

The Red Sox made that trade in order to clear a spot on their 40-man roster. Koss now finds himself in a similar position. As noted by MLB Pipeline, what makes Koss appealing is the fact that he “has solid raw power and speed, not to mention a high baseball IQ.” At the same time, however, Koss’ high strikeout rate and low walk rate indicate that “his lack of plate discipline could be a problem at higher levels” of the minor-leagues.

Koss, who turns 25 in January, is currently regarded by MLB Pipeline as the No. 20 prospect in Boston’s farm system. The former Anteater has spent his offseason playing for the Criollos de Caguas of the Puerto Rican Winter League. There, he has been under the watchful eyes of Red Sox first base coach Ramon Vazquez (Caguas’ manager), WooSox bench coach Jose Flores (Caguas’ infield coach), and Red Sox manager Alex Cora, who hails from Caguas.

If the Red Sox were to add Koss to their 40-man roster by next Tuesday’s deadline, they would retain his rights moving forward. In that scenario, Koss would be in line to make the jump to Triple-A Worcester while providing Boston with infield and outfield depth in 2023.

If the Red Sox do not add Koss to their 40-man roster by November 15, another club could acquire him for $100,000 during next month’s Rule 5 Draft. That team would then be responsible for carrying Koss on their major-league roster for the entirety of the 2023 season. If they were unable to do so, Koss would have to be offered back to the Red Sox for $50,000.

(Picture of Christian Koss: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox’ Miguel Bleis tabbed by MLB Pipeline as ‘Boston’s best international prospect since Rafael Devers’

On Wednesday night, MLB.com’s Jim Callis identified Miguel Bleis as the Red Sox’ best international prospect since Rafael Devers.

Bleis, 18, originally signed with the Red Sox for $1.5 million (the same amount Devers received in 2013) as a highly-touted international free agent coming out of the Dominican Republic in January 2021. After making his professional debut in the Dominican Summer League last year, the San Pedro de Macoris native made the jump to the Florida Complex League this summer.

In 40 games with Boston’s rookie-level, Fort Myers-based affiliate, the right-handed hitting outfielder batted .301/.353/.543 with 14 doubles, four triples, five home runs, 27 RBIs, 28 runs scored, 18 stolen bases, 10 walks, and 45 strikeouts over 167 plate appearances.

Among qualified FCL hitters this season, Bleis ranked seventh in batting average, 24th in on-base percentage, third in slugging percentage, fourth in OPS (.896), 12th in line-drive rate (22.3 percent) second in isolated power (.242), tied for first in speed score (9.3), and sixth in wRC+ (142), per FanGraphs.

While he was undoubtedly one of the top hitters in the lower minors this year, Bleis did struggle a bit when it came to plate discipline, as noted by Callis. In simpler terms, he only walked six percent of the time while striking out at 26.9 percent clip. He also posted the ninth-highest swinging-strike rate (33.8 percent) in the FCL.

Defensively, Bleis saw the majority of his playing time this season come in center field. The 6-foot-3, 170-pounder logged 310 1/3 innings in center and just five innings in right while recording a team-high five outfield assists.

Taking that statistic into consideration, Callis adds that Bleis should be able to stick in center on account of his arm strength. If not, he has the offensive upside and defensive profile to shift over to right.

As the 2022 FCL season drew to a close in August, the Red Sox began promoting several of their younger prospects — such as Mikey Romero and Roman Anthony — to Low-A Salem. Bleis very well could have been part of that group, but the club opted to have him stay in Fort Myers since he was dealing with some back soreness.

Back in September, Red Sox director of player development Brian Abraham told The Athletic’s Chad Jennings that had Bleis been healthy, he would have joined Anthony, Romero, and the like in Salem for the remainder of the minor-league campaign.

“He certainly would have been with that group (that was promoted to Salem),” Abraham said. “We let him know that he would have been with that group. But I think being healthy going into the offseason was the primary concern. So, he stayed in Fort Myers and made sure we got that (back issue) right and then we sent him home. There’s no doubt he had earned a promotion to Salem if not at the end of the year, earlier. He is aware of that.”

Bleis, who turns 19 in March, is currently regarded by MLB Pipeline as the No. 5 prospect in Boston’s farm system. He has yet to crack the publication’s top 100 list, but that could happen sooner rather than later.

Considering what Abraham already told Jennings, it seems likely that Bleis will kick off his first full professional season in Salem next spring. After all, his potential is through the roof and he has the tools to back it up.

“He has five tools. That’s the reality,” said Abraham. “You don’t see that too often. What those five tools will ultimately (become), how they will pan out, not sure. But in terms of the tools, and in terms of the ability to impact the game in various ways, he does that. 

“I think whenever you have a player who does those types of things, he’s someone you want to pay attention to and watch,” added Abraham. “Whether he’s on the bases, whether he’s in the field, whether he’s in the batter’s box, you know something special is going to happen, and I think that’s something he showed during his short time in the states.”

(Picture of Miguel Bleis: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox’ Enmanuel Valdez makes MLB Pipeline’s Prospect Team of the Year

MLB Pipeline revealed their Prospect Team of the Year for 2022 on Thursday. The Red Sox had one representative in infielder Enmanuel Valdez.

Valdez was named the first team’s starting second baseman after batting .296/.376/.542 with 35 doubles, two triples, 28 home runs, 107 RBIs, 92 runs scored, eight stolen bases, 64 walks, and 124 strikeouts in 126 games (573 plate appearances) between Double-A and Triple-A this season.

Among qualified minor-league second basemen, Valdez posted the highest slugging percentage, the second-highest OPS (.918), the third-highest isolated power (.246), the third-most homers, and the second-most RBIs, per FanGraphs.

The 23-year-old out of the Dominican Republic began the 2022 campaign with the Corpus Christi Hooks, the Double-A affiliate of the Astros. He then earned a promotion to Triple-A Sugar Land in early June. Less than two months later, he and fellow prospect Wilyer Abreu were traded to the Red Sox for catcher Christian Vazquez.

While Abreu was assigned to Double-A Portland, Valdez joined Triple-A Worcester. The left-handed hitter made his organizational debut on August 3 and slashed .237/.309/.422 with nine doubles, one triple, seven home runs, 30 RBIs, 26 runs scored, three stolen bases, 19 walks, and 48 strikeouts in 44 games (195 plate appearances with the WooSox.

Valdez’s second-half homers came in bunches. He hit two in his first three games at Polar Park from Aug. 3-5 and enjoyed a two-homer game on Aug. 9. His next big fly did not come until the 28th and his final two came on September 3-4. Over the last three weeks of the minor-league season, Valdez hit just .238 with a .565 OPS across 16 games to close out his year.

Defensively, Valdez saw playing time at three different positions in Worcester. The 5-foot-9, 191-pounder logged 330 innings at second base, 24 innings at third base, and 25 innings in left field.

Originally signed by the Astros for $450,000 as an international free-agent in July 2015, Valdez can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft and minor-league free agency this winter. The Red Sox will have until late November to decide if they want to protect Valdez from the Rule 5 by adding him to their 40-man roster.

With that being said, it seems unlikely that chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. would part ways with an established veteran such as Vazquez just to risk losing part of the return for him the following winter. For what it is worth, Abreu can also become Rule 5-eligible in the coming months, though he is under club control through 2024.

Valdez, who turns 24 in December, is currently regarded by MLB Pipeline as the No. 18 prospect in Boston’s farm system. If he remains in the organization through the off-season, Valdez could very well make his major-league debut at some point in 2023. He possesses intriguing power and can play multiple positions, so there is potential for him to undertake a utility role in the not-so-distant future.

(Picture of Enmanuel Valdez: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Wikelman Gonzalez recognized by MLB Pipeline as ‘hottest’ pitching prospect in Red Sox farm system

Wikelman Gonzalez was recently recognized by MLB Pipeline as the hottest pitching prospect in the Red Sox farm system.

Since being promoted from Low-A Salem to High-A Greenville last month, Gonzalez has posted a 2.65 ERA and 2.54 FIP to go along with 23 strikeouts to six walks over four starts (17 innings pitched) for the Drive. The right-hander struck out four across five one-run frames in his last time out against the Asheville Tourists at Fluor Field on Wednesday.

Prior to earning that promotion, Gonzalez began the 2022 season in Salem and produced a 4.54 ERA (3.86 FIP) with 98 punchouts to 48 walks over 21 starts (81 1/3 innings). Since making the jump from Low-A to High-A, the 20-year-old hurler has been getting strikeouts more frequently (27.4% to 32.9% strikeout rate) while giving up fewer walks (13.4% to 8.6% walk rate).

Gonzalez is currently regarded by MLB Pipeline as the No. 15 prospect in Boston’s farm system, which ranks fifth among pitchers in the organization. The Red Sox originally signed the native Venezuelan for $250,000 as an international free-agent coming out of Maracay in July 2018.

Listed at 6-feet and 167 pounds, Gonzalez “operates at 92-95 mph and tops out at 97 with quality life on his heater. He gets good depth on his upper-70s curveball when he stays on top of it, though it devolves into a slurve at times. He has advanced feel for a mid-80s changeup with fade and isn’t afraid to use it,” per his MLB Pipeline scouting report.

Gonzalez, who does not turn 21 until next March, can become Rule 5-eligible for the first time in his career this winter. The Red Sox would need to add him to their 40-man roster by the November deadline in order to prevent that from happening.

Given that he is still young and has yet to pitch above High-A, it is no sure thing that Boston will protect — and therefore commit a 40-man roster spot to — Gonzalez this fall.

With that being said, Gonzalez possesses exciting potential and still has room to grow. As MLB Pipeline put it, “consistent control will be the deciding factor in Gonzalez’s pursuit of a Major League rotation spot.”

(Picture of Wikelman Gonzalez: Gwinn Davis/Greenville Drive)

Red Sox’ Eddinson Paulino named to MLB Pipeline’s Prospect Team of the Week

Not to be overshadowed by the likes of Niko Kavadas or Blaze Jordan, Red Sox infield prospect Eddinson Paulino was named to MLB Pipeline’s Prospect Team of the Week on Monday.

Representing second-base prospects across Minor League Baseball, Paulino went 12-for-25 (.480) with two doubles, two triples, two home runs, seven RBIs, eight runs scored, five stolen bases, six walks, and two strikeouts in Low-A Salem’s latest six-game series against the Delmarva Shorebirds at Carilion Clinic Field.

Paulino, 19, is currently regarded by MLB Pipeline as the No. 19 prospect in Boston’s farm system. The Red Sox originally signed the Dominican-born infielder as an international free-agent for $205,000 on his 16th birthday in 2018.

With 2022 marking his first full season in pro ball, Paulino got off to a rocky start with Salem by posting a wRC+ of 77 in the month of April. Since the calendar flipped to May, however, the left-handed hitter has turned a corner offensively by slashing a stout .299/.399/.518 (154 wRC+) with 14 doubles, three triples, four homers, 21 runs driven in, 37 runs scored, 12 stolen bases, 26 walks, and 28 strikeouts over his last 41 games and 193 trips to the plate.

Among qualified Carolina League hitters this season, Paulino now ranks first in doubles (18), second in triples (8), second in runs scored (48), 14th in RBIs (32), ninth in walks drawn (32), 16th in strikeout rate (18.5%), 21st in stolen bases (13), 21st in batting average (.267), 27th in on-base percentage (.360), 11th in slugging percentage (.475), 13th in OPS (.835), 10th in isolated power (.208), eighth in speed score (8.7), and 15th in wRC+ (131), per FanGraphs.

On the other side of the ball, Paulino has understandably seen the majority of his playing time this year come at second base. But the 5-foot-10, 155 pounder has also played some third base and shortstop while logging a total of 46 defensive innings between left and center field.

Per his MLB Pipeline scouting report, Paulino possesses 50-grade speed “and displays good instincts on the bases. He has reliable hands and some twitchy athleticism but his quickness and average arm strength are a bit stretched at shortstop.”

Paulino, who turns 20 next month, can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time in his career this winter unless he is otherwise added to Boston’s 40-man roster before then. As of now, it looks like the Red Sox would be taking a risk if they were to leave the Santiago native unprotected come late November.

That being said, there is still plenty of time left before the 2022 season comes to a close. Perhaps Paulino can use it to his advantage like he has already been doing in recent weeks.

(Picture of Eddinson Paulino: Gary Streiffer/Flickr)

Should Red Sox consider taking Oregon State outfielder Jacob Melton with top pick in this year’s draft?

With the 2022 MLB Draft fast approaching, the Red Sox continue to be linked to college outfielders in recently-published mock drafts from industry experts.

MLB.com’s Jim Callis, for instance, has the Red Sox taking University of Tennessee outfielder Drew Gilbert with their top pick in his latest mock that was released on Wednesday night.

Last week, Baseball America’s Carlos Collazo had Boston selecting University of California, Berkeley outfielder Dylan Beavers with the 24th overall pick.

Needless to say, there seems to be some speculation within the industry that chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. could be leaning towards taking a college bat when the Red Sox are first on the clock on July 17.

Taking that into consideration, Oregon State outfielder Jacob Melton should probably be viewed as a potential Red Sox target as well. In fact, Collazo wrote that the Oregon native “is being scouted throughout the back of the first round.”

Melton, 21, is currently regarded by Baseball America and MLB Pipeline as the 25th- and 54th-ranked prospect in this year’s draft class, respectively.

In 60 games with the Beavers (who are currently in the super regionals of the College World Series) this season, the left-handed hitting junior batted a stout .360/.422/.668 with 21 doubles, four triples, 16 home runs, 81 RBIs, 65 runs scored, 21 stolen bases, 24 walks, and 47 strikeouts over 282 plate appearances en route to being named the Pac-12 Conference’s Player of the Year.

Per his Baseball America scouting report, Melton’s “production is prettier than his swing, which is described as ‘unorthodox’ and features plenty of moving parts. He starts with an open stance and features a leg kick in his load, with a long load that includes a barrel dump on the back half and an arm bar. Despite those mechanics, Melton has plenty of bat speed and the athleticism to make it work. While his bat path might not be ideal, his barrel stays in the zone for a long time and he has the strength to drive the ball with authority, with a frame that suggests more could be coming.”

MLB Pipeline, on the other hand, notes that the 6-foot-3, 208 pounder “has the chance to do some damage from the left side of the plate. He has an advanced approach at the plate and makes a ton of contact. He also has a good amount of juice to his pull side, and he’s tapped into that power even more in 2022, leading some scouts to think he might have better than average pop in the future.”

Defensively, Melton has moved from first base to the outfield over the course of his collegiate career and has now established himself as Oregon State’s everyday center fielder. Baseball America labels his arm strength as average while MLB Pipeline indicates that he is capable of playing all three outfield positions given his plus speed, which also helps him on the basepaths.

Melton, who turns 22 in September, is projected to go to the Giants at No. 30 by Collazo and to the Astros at No. 28 by Callis. The recommended slot value for both of this picks ($2.485 million and 2.62 million, respectively) is a bit lower than the $2,974,900 attached to the Red Sox’ first-round selection.

Because of this difference, the Sox could look to cut an underslot deal with Melton if they were to take him at No. 24, though that remains to be seen for a number of reasons.

Boston last used a first-rounder on an Oregon State player in 2005, when speedy outfielder Jacoby Jacoby Ellsbury was selected with the 23rd overall pick. Unlike Ellsbury at that time, though, Melton has never been drafted before.

(Picture of Jacob Melton: Zac BonDurant/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

2022 MLB Draft prospect Tucker Toman works out for Red Sox in Greenville

The Red Sox hosted Hammond School (Columbia, S.C.) infielder Tucker Toman for a pre-draft workout at Fluor Field in Greenville on Saturday, according to SportsTalk Media Network.

Toman, 18, is the son of current Middle Tennessee State baseball coach Jim Toman. He is also currently regarded by MLB Pipeline as the No. 42 draft-eligible prospect and by Baseball America as the No. 70 prospect in this year’s draft class.

A switch-hitter, Toman batted .487 and slugged .887 with seven home runs and 27 RBIs in his senior season with the Skyhawks. The South Carolina native is committed to play his college baseball at the esteemed Louisiana State University, but he is expected to go pro this summer.

Per his MLB Pipeline scouting report, “Toman shows better bat speed with his left-handed stroke but is proficient from both sides of the plate. He understands his swing and barrels balls with ease when he just concentrates on making hard contact to all fields. He got too aggressive and pull-happy at times last summer but has the hittability, bat speed and strength for at least average and perhaps plus power without swinging for the fences.”

Baseball America, on the other hand, notes that Toman “has impressive power potential as a switch-hitter and is an offensive-oriented infielder who had an up-and-down summer. At his best, Toman barreled the baseball and sprayed line drives and deep fly balls all over the field, but he also had events where he swung and missed consistently and got himself out with bad chases on pitches out of the zone.”

Defensively, the 6-foot-1, 190 pounder is described by MLB Pipeline as a player with an uncertain future given that he only has below-average speed and average arm strength.

“The best-case scenario would be third base, where his arm and hands might be a little light but he has the work ethic to possibly make it to happen,” Toman’s scouting report reads. “Second base seems like a bigger stretch with his lack of quickness, and he could wind up on an outfield corner.”

Toman, who turns 19 in November, could very well be someone the Red Sox target in the second round as opposed to the first in this year’s amateur draft, which begins in Los Angeles on July 17.

Boston owns the 24th and 41st overall picks in the 2022 draft. They also own the 79th overall selection, which they received as compensation for losing Eduardo Rodriguez to the Tigers in free agency.

While it remains to be seen just how interested the Red Sox are in a prospect such as Toman, it is somewhat intriguing that this information got out there.

(Picture of Tucker Toman via his Instagram)